A reflection on being 21 and looking ahead into the new year. 21 saw marriage, moving, launches, struggles, adventures and so much more. 22 is going to look like living with more intention as I experience a whole lot of “new” from studying to blogging and having family move to Aotearoa.
Recap: What 21 Looked Like
I celebrated my 21st birthday surrounded by my favourite people. My high school best friend and roommate for 3 years had flown to NZ and surprised me a few days earlier. I ate cake while my family told me what they loved me for. I had Auckland’s best ice cream at Giapo and then spent the evening walking my favourite Auckland walk – the Mercer Bay Loop and looking for starfish in Piha’s rock pools (unsuccessfully, I might add – instead I was almost attacked by a seagull)!
21 years and 6 days old saw me marry my best friend and commit to a lifetime together. It was the absolute highlight of the year and a day filled with the purest of joy. Wearing my dream dress, walking down a magical aisle, exchanging rings, speaking vows and sealing them with a kiss, eating my favourite kai in the world (biriyani, obviously!), laughing and crying during the speeches – it was a day to remember.
We then ventured on a buddymoon with our high school friends that had flown across the globe to celebrate with us. And we continued the celebrations as we explored the beautiful parts of the Coromandel.
Isaac and I then had our first trip as a married couple to Taranaki, a few days of bliss, spent exploring a region of NZ that we hadn’t visited before. Together we navigated moving in together, sharing a flat with 3 others and juggling jobs and university classes.
We travelled to Nepal at Easter, to celebrate the wedding of Isaac’s sister. Another incredibly special day, as we witnessed the union of two beautiful people against the backdrop of the Himalayan mountains. We shared indescribable moments with whanau and new friends and cherished the time in Isaac’s home country, while also finding time for a little getaway with just the two of us in Pokhara and Kuala Lumpur!
Arriving back to Aotearoa, we moved into our first home together. We felt the chaos of moving in, unpacking and jumping back into work almost immediately. The next few months saw us getting new jobs, new routines and plodding along with life.
We made a few trips – one to the Coromandel again and another to Tongariro National Park. Both trips held amazing and challenging moments.
Read about them here:
Mid-year, I jumped headfirst into launching this blog, a dream come true. Announcing launch and setting myself a deadline meant that when the day came, I was ready for it! It has been a steep learning curve as I’ve navigated everything from website design to SEO and all the bits in between. I continued to write and write throughout the year, covering topics that I’m passionate about – including travel and mental health.
21 saw a year of extreme highs and lows for my mental health. Towards the end of the year, I realised that I needed more help and needed to take more control of my situation. I understood that sitting around and waiting for things to get better was not going to work. I realised that if nothing changes, then nothing changes. As I found a new counsellor and have started to be more intentional about building healthy habits, my mental health still has its ups and downs, but with an upward trend.
Our last international trip for the year was to Thailand and Laos, where we were reunited with family and spent the first half of the holiday relaxing by the beach in Thailand and the second half on a road trip through Southern Laos.
I started my 22nd birthday travelling by songthaew for an hour and a half, through beautiful scenery, to get to a rock climbing resort in Laos. Isaac and I spent the day on rock faces, scaling the cliffs for the most beautiful views across the valley. We enjoyed every minute of it, pausing for a typical Lao sticky rice and laab lunch before climbing again until sundown. We spent the night in a one-room, bamboo cottage on stilts and I couldn’t think of a better way to bring in 22.
Who I’m Stepping Into In 22
22 is going to be a year of intention. To live a life with purpose, by building better connections, having more adventures and putting wellbeing first.
I found that in the past year I got caught up in the mundane schedule and routine of going to work, coming home, eating and sleeping. I got stuck in “survival” mode rather than “thriving” mode and that wasn’t positive on my mental health. With 22, I want to be intentional about everything I do and to be present in the moment.
It will be a year of focusing on connection. Connecting with community and whanau, connecting with nature and whenua and connecting with myself more deeply. 21 taught me that isolation and solitude don’t help mental wellbeing.
It will be a year of more adventure. I want to fuel the deep desire in my heart to see more of our country, Aotearoa and to see more of our city, Tamaki Makaurau. It is important to me to explore locally and to have lots of micro-adventures, rather than one big, long, international trip (although I love those too..)!
It will be a year of prioritising wellbeing. While I’m still trying to figure out what the nuts and bolts of this look like, I know it is something that I must be actively pursuing everyday. From eating better to moving more to practicing minimalism to having counselling, I look forward to discovering exactly what wellbeing looks like for me, as an individual.
What Is Coming Up
I will be going back to university this year, which is super scary for me. It is not something I enjoy 100% and I struggle with a lot of aspects of it. Despite this, I’ve chosen to continue with my degree – I’m 2 years down and 2 to go. While it’s scary and difficult, I am looking forward to growth through this experience and to continue to learn everyday.
Alongside full-time study, I am passionate about continuing to write for my blog and to connect with my readers. I have a few exciting projects and ideas in mind that I would love to see fulfilled during 22.
If the time and finances allow it, we are hoping to make a trip to the US and UK mid-year to meet in-laws and new nieces for the first time. We are working to make this a reality, but at the moment it’s not clear how it will work out.
Another big change will be having my whanau move back to Aotearoa permanently from India. It is exciting to have family living in the same continent, country and even CITY as us, and I anticipate the change that this will be for all of us.
21 has taught me so much and I look forward to taking those lessons into 22 and to grow more into who I want to be.